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Old 20.04.2021, 10:38
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Cancer Treatment/Diagnosis/Resources

Good morning

I have a question for those of you who have dealt with a cancer diagnosis and treatment in Switzerland. My mother in law was just recently diagnosed with cancer. I am trying to be there for my wife emotionally, but also support her by taking on some the logistics and administrative things that will be need to be taken care of.

I have been doing research about the different resources available, and come across the Swiss Cancer League and a couple of other organizations. Overall I am looking for some guidance about what we can expect in terms of dealing the insurance company, best hospitals, doctors, things to know etc… I appreciate everyone’s help.
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Old 20.04.2021, 15:36
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Re: Cancer Treatment/Diagnosis/Resources

Sorry to hear that. I hope it can be treated. If she needs a hospital stay you usually need to register that with the insurance company. Everything will go directly through the insurance behind the scenes. The place where she will be treated will have some information on support groups.
Best hospitals is a difficult one and may well depend on the type of cancer. I think there's a group called BetterDoc with whom you can check. Her insurance model may well restrict where she can be treated. If she only has basic insurance she might well spend most of her time talking to relatively junior doctors but with the senior doctors behind the scenes. Again it may depend on the type of cancer. I wish her and you all the best.
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Old 20.04.2021, 16:45
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Re: Cancer Treatment/Diagnosis/Resources

I was diagnosed with breast cancer and treated in 2011 in Bern. So it‘s been 10 years and I remain no evidence of disease. Luck and docs who were on the ball with good treatments. Does your MIL have doctors she trusts? They are the best source of good referrals.

I am from the US where health care is a pain in the ass. I found my dealings with insurance and administrative stuff to be really easy here. My gyn referred me to a more experienced gyn for my surgery and she referred me to an oncologist, who I really liked. Since most of my care was outpatient (chemo, radiation), it did not matter that I had only basic insurance. I did spend one night in hospital for a lumpectomy. But my doctors and their staff did most of the administration stuff, and scheduling. As for bills, you pay the franchise/deductible and then 10% of the next 7000.

Best Hospitals - depends on where your MIL is located. I‘m always a fan of academic hospitals for the newest info. But large community hospitals here are good - I’ve had a good experience with the Kantonal Hospital in Winterthur, and I’ve heard good things about the Hirslanden group.

It depends a lot on your specific insurer - mine was viva care and now Swica and they process stuff quickly.

It‘s not easy, and not seamless, but I think the key is identifying good doctors. Also, so much depends on the type and stage of cancer. And different people will have different experiences and opinions. Cancer is so many different diseases.

Wishing you all good luck.
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Old 20.04.2021, 18:37
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Re: Cancer Treatment/Diagnosis/Resources

From the 'working around cancer thing' I can recommend finding local groups for that specific cancer, like even on facebook, where patient share information.

That way you can find out a lot, from struggles with the cancer type/model itself, issues with the system (approval or not of some stuff needed, how to do it and so on), and even doc recommendations. But I must say that I wouldn't expect jerks in that field....

I moved countries (HR to DE) during my treatment, and FB served the purpose of finding out the terms and figuring out the system, in both countries.
Some folks want the community support as well, I was there for the information mostly, and to read about experiences, recoveries, tips and tricks.

I believe in gathering knowledge to build some illusion of having control of that insane situation, so I've read a bunch of text from USA to see how/what can be done, what's expected and so on (since HR materials are insanely limited).
In my case it was thyroid cancer.
My mum had breast cancer, but she is of the type 'don't ask don't tell', to the point that even 10 years later I'm not sure what she really went through or how she coped. She was in some support group but left since folks there would focus too much on cancer and too little on the life itself...
So, it depends what each needs. Your needs and your wife's needs will be significantly different than your MIL's.

I think most important thing is that you keep the communication channels between you open, even if that is 'ok, no talks for now'. And ask each other 'what do you need from me to do for you'.

I can't advise about CH system more than - read reviews and inform yourself as much as possible.

Also, don't be reluctant to seek therapy/counsel for each and every one of you.

We as humans, even though we know we won't live forever aren't born to cope with serious diseases and operations and procedures, with good help is easier. And our friends and family probably aren't either fitted properly to provide such help/support.

I did mine without such help when it happened, and I drowned myself in finding peace in information, I did talk with my mum, and my SO, but for him it was too much (he already heavily struggled with depression and anxiety at the time), and a few friends but that wasn't deep nor healing.
Then we moved country (ok, after OP and final results that it isn't of the 'immediately fatal type' as was presumed before the OP, and that month between initial diagnose and final one was really hard and surreal - should I prepare for my funeral or for the trip to Bali? I was around 35 at the time) and I couldn't speak German and all things slowly crushed me (3 weeks to relocate, and finding a spot in Berlin and bunch of other shit that happened before and after, let's just say that 2016/17 was crazy)... So I ended in therapy sometime later for quite some time and did the grieving and acceptance then. But I was lucky, since 'my type' was 'some easy one' if you can say that for any cancer, but I could afford to postpone self-care until I emotionally crashed. Now it's all good.

What I'd recommend my younger self would be - do not do it alone, seek (good) counselling ASAP.

I wish you all go through this with least amount of stress as possible.
It won't be easy at all. But by staying united in it you can make it through it, one way or another.

About insurance, I'd call them and ask. Maybe they can offer some counsel about it as well, you never know.
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Old 20.04.2021, 19:05
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Re: Cancer Treatment/Diagnosis/Resources

ESCA theEnglish Speaking Cancer Association is Geneva based but you can find lots of good information with them.
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Old 20.04.2021, 19:08
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Re: Cancer Treatment/Diagnosis/Resources

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ESCA theEnglish Speaking Cancer Association is Geneva based but you can find lots of good information with them.
They are really helpful.
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